Processing Grapes

We grow Chambourcin grapes as a summer shade on the terrace. The vines are pruned to produce fruit, which they did in abundance this summer. As the fruit ripens all the wild animals and birds come in to enjoy their share. We try to net one section to keep some fruit for ourselves, but this is only partially successful. Small mammals such as antichinus and ringtail possums somehow find their way inside the net, where they chew happily all night leaving the terrace covered in clean seeds and skins every morning. Larger animals and birds stab at the grapes through the net, so great fat juicy fruit falls to the ground, making an awful mess. Last night we picked most of the bunches, filling a trug tub, six huge buckets and various baskets. Today we began making grape juice.

First the grapes are washed, then pulled from their stems and placed in a bowl. We use the Sampson juicer to gently press the fruit, creating a deep red juice that all too soon fills the small container. Then I pour it into PET bottles, leaving a space at the top, seal them and place in the refrigerator. Here the magic happens. Natural yeasts on the grapes produce a slight spritzig, so that in a few days we have sparkling grape juice, very slightly alcoholic. This is delicious drink, diluted with mineral water and ice, it makes a summer favourite. We first tasted it in France about eight years ago, where we bought plastic bottles of “must” from a winemaker at the Bordeaux markets. Now we have made it our own!

This description of must from Wikipedia is similar to our must, although we only use the juice … even so there are solids that settle out and make the last few centimetres of the juice very chewy! Must (from the Latin vinum mustum, “young wine”) is freshly pressed fruit juice (usually grape juice) that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit. The solid portion of the must is called pomace; it typically makes up 7%–23% of the total weight of the must. Making must is the first step in winemaking. Because of its high glucose content, typically between 10 and 15%, must is also used as a sweetener in a variety of cuisines. Unlike commercially sold grape juice, which is filtered and pasteurized, must is thick with particulate matter, opaque, and comes in various shades of brown and/or purple.

PS We are so busy with summer jobs such as processing grapes, tomatoes and cucumbers I have had little time to visit your blogs … hopefully I will be back soon. Thanks for your patience and kind comments!

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